Storms: European scale
The information below covers the countries of Northern, Western and Central Europe. Additional information that specifically refers to these individual countries is presented on the Storm pages of these countries.
An overview of European storms since 1950 and their damage to forests is presented on the website of the Atlantic European Regional Office of the European Forest Institute: download. An impression of the most devastating storms in the last 25 years and their impacts is summarized below.
Vulnerabilities – The storms since 1970
In the period 1970-2006 there have been 70 severe wind storm events in Europe resulting in total insured losses of approximately 50 bn USD. The thirteen most severe storm events alone account for nearly 80% (or 40 bn USD, in 2006 prices) of total insured winter storm losses in this period (42).
Vulnerabilities – The storms of the 1990s
25th January - 1st March 1990
Countries hit by the storms: Germany, Czech Republic, France, UK, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy
Between 25th January and 1st March 1990, eight severe storms crossed Europe over a wide area. The most damaging storms were Daria on 25th and 26th January and Vivien and Wiebke from 25th February to 1st March. ... The series of storms from January and March 1990 was one of the most devastating to hit Europe. The total costs were almost €13 Billion (22). The amound of damaged timber in 9 European countries at that time was more than 4 times the previous worst storm in 1972 (22). There was also significant damage to buildings and enormous disruption to infrastructure, transport and electricity supplies (23). In total 272 people were killed in Europe during the sequence of storms (22) with a large percentage of these due to Daria.
Until the summer 2002 floods in central Europe, windstorm Daria in January 1990 and then storms Lothar and Martin in late December 1999 held the record for Europe’s most expensive disasters in terms of insured losses, at nearly six billion euro and around 6.7 billion euro respectively. The three storms killed around 220 people in total (20).
Daria was followed the next month by storm Vivian, which caused 64 deaths and around US$ 3.9 billion in insured losses (20).
Countries hit by the storms: France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania, Belgium, Estonia, Spain, Latvia, UK, Italy, Portugal
During December 1999, three severe storms hit Europe, causing insured losses above 10 billion EUR (4). The total economic losses were roughly twice as much. The insured loss attributed to only one of those storms (Lothar, 26 December 1999) amounted to 5.9 billion EUR (11.3 billion EUR for economic loss), primarily in France (4). In fact, it was estimated that storm events were responsible for more than 50% (60%) of total economic (insured) losses over Germany for the period 1970–1999 (5).
The storm Lothar led to timber losses of nearly 300 million m3in the province of Baden-Württemberg. The storms Anatol and Lothar in 1999 cost the country 750 million Euros in insured losses (1).
Lothar and Martin took place within the space of just three days. Lothar and Martin, preceded by Anatol,were unprecedented in Europe in their intensity, the size of the geographical area affected and the level of economic and environmental losses.Lothar and Martin, swept across an area from northwestern France to Germany, and across southern France and Switzerland respectively. Wind gusts reached speeds of more than 180 km/h in the first and 160 km/h in the second. The storms caused huge devastation, claiming 125 lives and damaging houses, infrastructure such as electricity grids and transportation and communications lines. At the time they were the most costly natural catastrophe ever to hit Europe, with total insured losses of 6.7 billion euros (CRED, Swiss Re.), many of them in the industrial and public sectors (20).
Forest stocks are particularly vulnerable to storms. Timber losses in France from the two storms at the end of December 1999 represented amounted to more than three times the country’s annual harvest, and those in Switzerland to just under three times. (21). According to some studies, conifer species appear to be more vulnerable to storm damage than deciduous species.
Storm frequency between 1998 and 2002 was particularly significant in western Europe although not exceptional. Storm damage on the scale caused by Lothar has a return period of 10 years on average, while storms causing up to one billion euro in damage are to be expected every two to three years (21).
Vulnerabilities – The storms in the first decade of this century
Countries hit by the storms: Slovakia
Especially in Slovakia, the storm of 19th November 2004 caused almost complete destruction of large areas of the forest. The total volume of wind damaged timber was 5.3 Mm3, which represents more than 50% of the entire timber production in Slovakia (35). The storm caused a lot of damage to local infrastructure including roads, railway lines, electric lines, water pipes and tourist trails.
Countries hit by the storms: Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, UK
The storm of 7th – 9th January 2005 had a devastating effect on the forests of Southern Sweden with 75 Mm3 of timber damaged, which represents approximately the annual harvest of the whole country. In some forestry districts the damage represented 20 years of harvesting. Less damage occurred to forests in Latvia, Denmark, UK, Estonia, and Lithuania but still represented a large percentage of the growing stock in countries like Denmark (3.4%). There was an enormous impact on infrastructure and services in most of the countries affected but particularly in Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and Estonia with many households left without electricity, roads and trains blocked, telecommunications systems destroyed and extensive coastal flooding (36). The storm killed 19 people (36,37).
Countries hit by the storms: Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Latvia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Ireland
There were two damaging storms in the middle of January 2007, Per (14th January) and Kyrill (18th January). Per caused a lot of damage to forests in Sweden. Kyrill affected Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria (24). In terms of losses of standing timber, the most heavily hit countries were Germany (20% of annual allowable cut), the Czech Republic (65% of annual allowable cut) and Austria (15% of allowable cut) (24).
Kyrill caused 55 deaths across Europe including Germany (13), UK (13), Ireland (7), Netherlands (7), Poland (6), Czech Republic (4), Belgium (2), France (2) and Austria (1).
Countries hit by the storms: France, Spain, Portugal, Italy
The storm of 24th January 2009 caused 31 fatalities (12 in France, 15 in Spain, 4 in Italy), as well as extensive disruptions to public transport and power supplies, and damaged 43.1 Mm3 of timber in France (14% of the local standing volume).
Vulnerabilities - Trends during the past 200 years
The magnitude and frequency of storms was analysed at 9 diverse European coastal sites (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, UK, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland) in order to determine storm trends over a period spanning between 30 and 100 yr. From the results for the coastal regions in these countries no significant trends have been detected in the magnitude or frequency of storms in Europe during the study period (48). A systematic roughening of storm-related risks has not happened in the past 200 years, or so; on the other hand, a worsening has taken place in Northern Europe in the past 50 years (14).
An analysis of eight storm data sets, six of them containing more than 100 years of severe storm information, strongly suggests that storms occur in clusters and this clustering of storms increases with storm severity (53).
It turns out that an increase in storm activity over the Northeastern Atlantic and Northern Europe took place for a few decades since about the 1960s, which had replaced a downward trend since about 1900 (14). The 1960-1995 increase in the northeastern Atlantic storminess appears as non-dramatic, when an even longer time window is considered, namely homogenized local air pressure readings at two locations in Sweden, Lund and Stockholm, which have been recorded since the early 1800s and earlier (15). The number of deep pressure systems as well as the number of pressure falls of 16 hPa and more within 12 hours (not shown) is remarkably stationary since the beginning of the barometer measurements (14).
A significant increase in losses has been detected during the second half of the 20th century (6). Even though this loss increase is mainly ascribed to socio-economic factors (e.g., economic and demographic growth), variations of meteorological conditions can also contribute considerably to modify both the number and strength of natural disasters (6,7,8,9). Moreover, there are first indications that losses in Europe could increase during the 21st century (9,10). The IPCC states that there is no evidence that the observed increase in Europe an storm losses is due to anthropogenic climate change (49).
According to the Swiss Re loss model, an insured storm loss in the order of some 7 bn USD can currently be expected to occur in Europe about once every ten years while one of 30 bn USD is anticipated once every 100 years (42).
Poleward shift storm tracks
The IPCC concludes that it is likely that there has been a poleward shift in the main northern and southern storm tracks during the last 50 years. There is strong agreement with respect to this change between several reanalysis products for a wide selection of cyclone parameters and cyclone identification methods and European and Australian pressure based storminess proxies are consistent with a poleward shift over the last 50 years, which indicates that the evidence is robust (38).
New studies indicate that the last 50 years coincide with relatively low cyclonic activity in northern coastal Europe in the beginning of the period. Several studies using reanalyses suggest an intensification of high-latitude cyclones, but, according to the IPCC, there is only low confidence in these changes (38).
The IPCC concludes that there is medium confidence in an anthropogenic influence on the observed poleward shift in extratropical cyclone activity. It has not formally been attributed. However indirect evidence such as global anthropogenic influence on the sea level pressure distribution and trend patterns in atmospheric storminess inferred from geostrophic wind and ocean wave heights has been found. While physical understanding of how anthropogenic forcings may influence extratropical cyclone storm tracks has strengthened, the importance of the different mechanisms in the observed shifts is still unclear (38).
Vulnerabilities - Forests
A critical assessment of the trends identified in existing data and model projections suggests that there are clear indications of increasing exposure to storm damages because
- the intensity of storms is likely to further increase under climate change (30). Storm tracks are also projected to affect larger areas and particularly Northern and Eastern Europe are likely to experience significantly increased damage risks (31);
- warmer temperatures and increasing precipitation during the winter season increase the susceptibility of forest stands to storm damage through weaker anchorage of roots in unfrozen and water saturated soils (32). Storms will tend to be accompanied by heavier rainfall leading to more saturated soils and increased risk of wind damage. Heavy rain in the preceding days may weaken the soil and decrease the anchorage of the trees (33). Heavy rain or snow during the storm event may add considerable weight to the crowns and will be a particular problem if drainage is poor or poorly maintained and the water is unable to drain away;
- increasing growing stocks and ageing forests will further aggravate the vulnerability to storm damage across Europe, unless management intensity increases substantially.
Storm impacts in the forest sector can be separated into (25):
- Primary damage: Initial mechanical damage caused by the storm;
- Secondary damage: Subsequent damage by, for example, bark beetles, fire, snow/ice or further wind. Secondary damage is common, especially insect holes in wood, damage by blue stain fungus, and increased incidence of root rot in the affected forest area (28);
- Tertiary damage: Loss of production in shortened forest rotations and other longterm constraints on forest operation.
Storms are responsible for more than 50% of reported primary damage by volume to European forests from catastrophic events, including all biotic and abiotic damage (34). ... More than 130 separate wind storms have been identified as causing noticeable damage to European forests in the last 60 years (~2/year). ... The increase of growing stock and average forest age across Europe in the last 60 years has contributed to the increase of observed damage. If the total growing stock and average age of European forests continues to increase there will be a proportional increase in the volume of storm damaged trees. If the current build-up of growing stock continues together with predicted changes to the climate, damage levels are expected to at least double, and possibly quadruple, by the end of the century (25).
After damaging storms, round wood prices are generally much lower than in normal conditions. The reasons are many; higher costs, lower round wood quality and the consequences of an excess supply (25). Wood from storm-breaks enters the market unplanned and in large quantities, which leads to a strong decrease in prices. For example, in the months following the large storm events of the 1990s, wood prices sank by up to 50%. Today, many state forests have to be financially self-sustaining and therefore reach financial difficulties more easily. Small private forest owners are even more at risk, since they hardly own any financial reserves to cope with such events (13).
Approximately 13% of forests in Europe have a protective function, in particular to protect water resources, to control soil erosion and landslides, or to provide protection from avalanches or rock fall (26). Such forests are often in more vulnerable mountain or upland locations, and their importance in protecting environments and society make them a high priority for protection, where possible, from wind disturbance. The risks of wind throw of trees on steep slopes may need particularly careful management, as for example the soil disturbance and potential loss following wind throw from a steep forested slope may be up to 1800 m3 per ha (27).
Vulnerabilities – Future storm frequency and intensity
It is now largely accepted that under global warming the storm tracks shift poleward and expand upward, and the total number of cyclonic storms decreases (57). In fact, there are indications that this trend has already been observed over the last half of the twentieth century (58).
Conclusions of the IPCC (2012)
Projected changes in storminess are associated mainly with a spatial displacement of the storm track to the northeast (14). In 2012, the IPCC concluded that there is medium confidence in a poleward shift of the tropospheric storm tracks due to future anthropogenic forcings. The IPCC also concluded that there is medium confidence that an increased anthropogenic forcing will lead to a reduction in the number of mid-latitude cyclones averaged over each hemisphere. There is low confidence, however, in region-specific projections: studies using different analysis techniques, different physical quantities, different thresholds, and different atmospheric vertical levels to represent cyclone activity and storm tracks result in different projections of regional changes (38).
The impact of a warmer Atlantic Ocean
In the present climate most of the intense storms in Western Europe occur in winter. However, a recent study (51), based on a very high resolution global climate model, predicts some major changes by the end of the twenty first century. For the future climate, a significant increase in storminess is to be expected during Autumn in Western Europe, due to a shift in the storm genesis region: severe storms originate in the tropicial zone of the Atlantic Ocean over warm waters. Also in the present climate tropical cyclones do occasionally reach the mid-latitudes and re-intensify into powerful storms such as hurricane Irene in 1999 (52). It was shown that the number of Beaufort 12 (>32.6 m/s) storms impacting Europe increases considerably in future climate simulations. Mainly the eastward expansion of the tropical cyclone genesis is thought to be responsible for storms forming further east and recurving towards Europe (51).
These results are confirmed by a new study, based on a more extensive set of storms (including Beaufort 11) of which the evolution is studied in greater detail (50). According to the results of this new study, in a warmer future climate, Western Europe will see larger impacts from severe Autumn storms. Not only their frequency will increase, but also their intensity and the area they affect. In general, it can be said that tropical air will have a greater impact on the future European weather through more severe Autumn storms. While storms in the present climate usually peak in intensity west of the British Isles, they do so further northeast in the future. As a consequence, the North Sea region and Scandinavia will experience significantly more Autumn storms. Also the Bay of Biscay area will see a considerable increase in storminess (50).
The new study was carried out for the present (2002– 2006), near future (2030–2034) and future (2094–2098) climate, and based on the moderate so-called RCP 4.5 scenario of near future and future greenhouse gas concentrations (comparable to the SRES A1B climate change scenario). The authors stress that it is hard to assess uncertainties and to validate the results, due to the fact that only one future climate scenario and a single model was used (50).
Conclusions of individual studies
Conclusions of individual studies (summarized below) may differ from the ones of the IPCC.
Explosive cyclones are rapidly intensifying low-pressure systems that cause severe storms with strong winds, extreme precipitation, and high waves. It is yet unclear how climate change may affect the number of these severe storms on the Atlantic Ocean and in the European coastal zone: both a reduction (55) and an increase (56) of these storms have been projected. In a recent study (54), projections based on 23 climate models and a high-end scenario of climate change (the so-called RCP8.5 scenario) show a 17% decrease of these explosive cyclones in the Atlantic at the end of the 21st century. For 14 of these models this decrease is statistically significant. These model studies also confirm a projected increase in storminess over the British Isles and the North Sea reported by numerous studies (e.g. 55), although this signal is very weak.
Several studies show a regional increase in the storm track activity over Western Europe due to an eastward or southeastward extension of the storm track (40,43). In line with this eastward shift an increase in wind storm days has been project for central Europe by the end of the 21st century (41,44).
Strong westerly wind events are projected to intensify by less than 10% at the end of the 21st century (16). These changes of wind speed will have an effect on both North Sea storm surges and wave conditions. For the storm surges along the North Sea coast line, an intensification is expected, which may amount to an increase of 30 cm, or so, to the end of the century. To this wind-related change the mean level has to be added, so that for maximum values of 50 cm along the German Bight are plausible estimates for the increase of water levels during heavy storm surges. In the Elbe estuary, larger values up to 70 cm are derived. These numbers are associated with a wide range of uncertainty (± 50 cm) (17). Scenarios of future wave conditions show large differences in the spatial patterns and the amplitude of the climate change signals. There is, however, agreement among models and scenarios that extreme wave heights may increase by up to 30 cm (7% of present values) in the Southeastern North Sea by 2085 (18).
By the end of the century, the number of severe storm surge events along the southern North Sea coast could increase by 50-100% (2). Many climate change studies point to an increase in the number of intense low pressure systems over the North Atlantic, while the frequency of (weak) cyclones may be reduced (3,19,39).
The 98th percentile of the daily maximum wind speed (the highest 2% of all values of daily maximum wind speed) is a reasonable threshold for initiation of damage (11). This percentile was shown to increase in climate change experiments (3).
At the end of the 21st century (2060-2100 compared with 1960-2000), Western Europe is expected to be more exposed to the influence of extreme wind storms than under the present climate conditions. … A widespread decrease of the extreme wind speeds is projected at lower latitudes (e.g. Mediterranean) and at polar latitudes (e.g., between Greenland, North Scandinavia and Spitsbergen Isles) (3).
As a consequence of higher storm intensity, the return period of damaging storms is projected to reduce significantly (29). For example in the British Isles/North Sea/Western Europe region, high intensity storms with an average return period of 20 years under the 20th century climate would become a 10 year event by 2040 and 2030 (A1B and A2 scenarios), respectively. The return period for such strong storms would further decrease to 5.3 and 5.8 years by 2100 under the two climate scenarios (29).
From statistical analyses (ranking and extreme value statistics) for a large part of Europe a general and consistent tendency towards an increased frequency of windstorm-related losses over most of Western, Central and Eastern Europe was concluded for IPCC B1 and A2 scenarios, and slightly inconsistent findings for A1B scenario. From these analyses it was concluded that losses may reach unseen magnitudes at the end of the 21st century, which for some countries (e.g. Germany) may exceed 200% of the strongest event in present day climate simulations. In these analyses, it was assumed that storm damages occur only at 2% of all days; the minimum wind speed that is expected to produce any loss, therefore, is defined as the regional 98th percentile of the daily maximum wind speed (45).
These statistical analyses show 3 different tendencies for the period 2060-2100 compared with 1960-2000 (45):
- Countries with shorter return periods of storms and higher losses for all 3 climate scenarios: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Hungary;
- Norway with longer return periods and lower losses for all 3 climate scenarios;
- All other countries in the studied part of Europe (Czech Republic, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland) have typically higher losses under future climate conditions and in some cases shorter return periods. Some countries, e.g. Italy and Sweden, actually show a tendency to longer RPs (A1B scenario).
In addition to these statistical analyses, simulations by a global climate model for the period 2060-2100 show that maximum storm losses for countries of Western Europe could increase by ~65% by the end of the 21st century, according to the IPCC A1B and A2 scenarios (45). Similar results were found in earlier studies for Central Europe (46), and some European countries (47). The significance of changes in storm magnitude strongly depends on country and scenario. For many countries, findings point towards higher loss events, significant for at least one of the tree studied IPCC climate change scenarios (B1, A1B, A2). An exception is Norway, for which weaker losses are found (45).
Vulnerabilities – Future storm losses
From climate change experiments it is concluded that, on average, insured loss potentials increase for Europe at the end of the 21st century. Increased losses are projected over Western and Central Europe and decreased losses for northern Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, assuming no adaptation to a changed wind climate (3). Changes are largest for Germany and France.
The increased loss potentials are linked with enhanced values for the high percentiles of surface wind maxima over Western and Central Europe, which in turn are associated with an enhanced number and increased intensity of extreme cyclones over the British Isles and the North Sea (3).
It can be concluded that a higher year-to-year variability of loss potentials may be expected in a future climate over Western and Central Europe. Without adaptation, average loss tolls increase significantly for France, the United Kingdom and Germany. In most cases, the increases are not statistically significant with adaptation (3).
The relationship between wind percentiles and storm loss numbers is highly nonlinear (12), so significant changes in extreme wind speeds do not necessarily imply similar results for the accumulated storm losses. The interannual variability of insured losses in a modified climate is projected to increase, which in turn indicates a diminution in the return period of extreme rare events. This effect seems to be associated with an increased probability for years with multiple events and hence of large loss numbers, which may severely affect management strategies of the insurance companies. This result is valid for all five studied regions (United Kingdom, France, Portugal/Spain, Norway/Sweden and Germany) and is particularly large for Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The larger signals obtained for no-adaptation calculations further indicate the need of a change in political/management terms in relation of risk strategies and changes in infrastructure characteristics to account for the changing local wind characteristics induced by climate change (3).
The impact of climate change on winter storms is difficult to detect in statistical terms, as the underlying trend will be distorted by rare, randomly occurring events, or by the fortuitous absence of catastrophic events. The chances to detect the projected trend in wind storms are highest for moderate events, while the expected impacts in terms of damages are highest in the category of extremely rare exceptional events. This highlights a difficult dilemma, and suggests that the course of wind damages in Europe for the next decades will likely remain to be dominated by rare events and interannual variability (42).
Coupling climate models and an insurance loss model
Wind-storm losses on a European-wide property insurance portfolio have been quantified under current and future climatic conditions (42). This has been done by coupling the output from state-of-the-art regional climate models to an operational insurance loss model, and thus combining both meteorological and insurance aspects of storms. The study focused on European winter storms, with winter season defined as October through to March (Oct–Mar). Projections were made for 2071–2100 (IPCC SRES A2 scenario) and compared with 1961–90.
The climate change projections show that, consistent with existing studies, the strength of the extreme storms are expected to increase in a band across central Europe (southern UK, German bight, northern Germany, and into eastern Europe). The increase is stronger for the rarer events. Wind gusts of storms decrease over northern Scandinavia and Southern Europe and the Mediterranean (42).
For the 110-year period a mean increase of 44% (annual expected loss), 23% (10 years loss), 50% (30 years loss), and 104% (100 years loss) for Europe was calculated. There is a disproportionate increase in losses for rare, extreme events. The changes result from both an increase in severity and frequency of the selected storm events (42).
A large country-to-country variability of the expected losses exists, due to the combination of the spatially inhomogeneous insurance portfolio and the horizontal variability of the gust change. Denmark and Germany experience the largest relative loss increases (116% and 114%, respectively, with small inter-model variability), whereas Ireland shows a negative mean climate change impact. The changes for the UK, Switzerland and Norway are positive, but still inconclusive due to high ensemble variability (42).
Plans and procedures
European Union Member States should develop forest storm risk management plans and procedures for dealing with the aftermath of storms. This could be facilitated by the provision of best practice information, guidelines and risk modelling tools and in the setting up of pre-storm training for harvesting machine operators and crews (25).
The European Commission has a potential role in enhancing post-storm coordination between affected countries and in facilitating the rapid response to storm damage by putting in place procedures to minimise storm impact. This could be, for example, aiding the implementation of multilateral or bi-lateral cooperation plans following storms, triggering plans and emergency measures to allow quick access to funds, and the rapid implementation of short-term derogation of regulations to allow immediate storm clear-up and forest restoration (25).
Active integrated management of all risks to forests (abiotic and biotic) should become part of standard forest practice in Europe (25).
On the European level the Civil Protection Mechanism is seen as a useful instrument by the Member States to ask for assistance in emergency cases. Its performance could be improved by adding storms expertise to its operational unit, the Monitoring and Information Centre (25).
Information and early warning
There is a clear requirement for the provision of a central source of up-to-date, appropriate and easily available information prior to and following storm events. Such information could consist of early warning systems for damaging storms, immediate maps of areas affected by storm damage using remote sensing, and the provision of information on global timber prices to assist in post-storm timber marketing (25).
There is an urgent need to harmonize the monitoring and reporting of storm damage and all other hazards (abiotic and biotic) across Europe. Only with such a harmonised approach will it be possible for policy makers to make informed decisions on the mechanisms and appropriate levels of response to different threats to European forests (25).
Sustainable forest management is considered to be the core principle of forestry and thus generally contributes to storm prevention by promoting the establishment of stable forests. Mitigating the damage can be achieved to some extent by (25):
- Modifying thinning regimes (e.g. avoid late/severe thinning);
- Optimizing the spatiotemporal organization of cuttings, species choice and management regime;
- Ensuring silvicultural systems are appropriate to the local conditions;
- Selecting more resistant species/provenances (which must be suitable for the site);
- Reduction of rotation age (and thus mean height);
- Using appropriate site preparation;
- Minimizing the fragmentation of the forest resulting from many small clear-felling areas, which overall creates long lengths of vulnerable new edges.
The modification of thinning regimes and rotation ages may interfere with nature conservation and biodiversity aims and requires the recognition of exposure to high storm risk in forest planning and adequate allocation of nature conservation (including NATURA 2000) and timber production areas. Storm risks as a hazard for habitats and genetic resources should be integrated in nature protection policies (25).
In some countries it is possible to buy insurance policies to cover the risk of wind damage to forest. This kind of insurance is available in Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands. At the time of the Gudrun storm in Sweden in 2005 approximately 40% of the forest owners in the affected area had bought a forest insurance policy. In other countries such as Germany and Austria, where there are national schemes for compensating owners after storm, damage private insurance is much less common. Central Europe is characterized by low coverage with only 2% in Germany, 0% in Austria and Switzerland and 7% in France of the total forest area insured (25).
European Union Member States should work in partnership with insurance companies, to promote a harmonised and equitable insurance system across storm affected countries that properly compensates forest owners for their private losses (25).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Europe.
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